Computer programmer Dennis Ritchie passed away today at age 70. Ritchie co-invented the UNIX operating system with Ken Thompson at Bell Labs in 1969, while co-authoring the C programming language with Brian Kernighan around the same period. In 1978, Kernighan and Ritchie co-authored the book ...
I have some things to say in response to Mark Rayner's article, as personal reflections. BTW, Rayner did the usual good write-up job with these kinds of articles. But you know, I can't read these kinds of "What is a Canadian" article without making a ...
I didn't need to say anything else, didn't I? MacArthur Park is that unlistenable 1968 hit whose only strength lay in the instrumental piece. How often does Jimmy Webb need to remind us that someone left his bloody cake out in the rain, then ...
This is more like a meta-review. I have gone to Canada Computes where nearly the entire Behringer line is sold, and was impressed by the specs. But does it do what I want, the way I want it?
I face a number of obstacles, being a ...
If u recall teh instalment ov "wwjd?", Jello Biafra discusd bout teh effects an politics ov all dat "toxic crap" which r affecshunately refr 2 as teh tar sandz.
Yesturdai, i read in da globe an mail dat pipeline rupturd on teh top ov hill. Teh ...
You know, I was minding my own business in this classy Chinese restaurant, engorging myself on their copious buffet, had my fill, and was handed the bill with an accompanying fortune cookie.
This fortune cookie (the one to the left) really existed, and I never saw ...
The following image is rumored to exist on recent T-shirts, the latest of many "Che" fashion statements:
... well, at least something like it. I haven't seen it on any shirt, but some are saying that they saw it on some people at one time. But ...
When I comment on technology, I like to discuss the good and the bad about it. I don't sell calculators, and I don't get freebies to review. That gives me the freedom to freely comment.
One has to admit that for HP to sell a $90 ...
I had decided to do my little contribution to society, and join LibriVox.org, and record a free audio file for them. My biggest problem so far has been microphones. I have an Optimus mike that was purchased 5 years ago, and had hardly been used. ...
With the levels down so low, my test recording needed post-processing. I used Adobe Audition 1.5. In most of these audio-doctoring softwares, all you need to do is to normalize the levels, so that "0" is the highest your levels should go. Audition had a ...
How to Make a Random Square
I have noticed that it has been difficult to elucidate a method for systematically creating even-ordered magic squares of any but the most basic kind. I don't know why this is, since the art has been alive in Europe for ...
I was experimenting with Danny Dawson's 4x4 magic square script, and began to consider writing my own script. But I just thought I would do a few runs for my own research. I wanted to thank Mr. Dawson for his fine work which I am ...
Maple is a robust math environment which can graph, solve equations, and solve for the unknown with the aid of its computer algebra solver (CAS), which is capable of computing exact roots of cubic functions, for example.
I wanted to demonstrate for myself that Maple could ...
ONE OF THE few things you see on the web these days is how to do a really good magic square. There are many websites that tell you about how spiralling arrangements of sequential numbers on a square matrix is magic, but for me, that's ...
I have met with some disappointment as to how a methodology for creating a 4x4 square should pan out, and instead I have come up with many different algorithms, each resulting in its own small sets of magic squares, but had stumbled upon a set ...
Welcome to part 7, where the magic squares are 7x7. I don't know if there is any numerological significance to that, but it wasn't intended. Although, if someone wanted to make something of it, 7 was the number of known planets in medieval times, as ...
Once upon a time, around the year 525 during the reign of Pope John I, a monk named Dionysius invented the idea of Anno Domini by producing a calendar which marked the time since the birth of Christ. The numbering of the years was adopted ...
Recently, I've been hit (my website that is) by someone possibly checking his plethora of links from his/her website, and when I back-traced it, I find this cool blog which acts as a convincing historical shrine to the late great 1050 CHUM Radio in Toronto. ...
At best, these websites present these people as numbers first, people second. To what extent does saying that Marie Curie has an IQ of 190 or so add to or take away from her discovery of radioactivity or her other contributions to ...
There are many lotteries called “Megabucks” thoughout the United States, similar in many ways to the Canadian “Lotto 6-49″.
Winning the lottery is how many people believe they will become financially secure in their lives. In fact, about one person in 4 believe this.
The chances of winning a lottery like the Massachusetts Megabucks lotto or the Ontario Lotto 6-49 are based in the idea that, out of 49 numbers available, you choose 6 numbers once each. Chosen that way, there are 13,983,816 ways of winning, or close to 14 million ways. If you have only one lotto ticket, then your chances are 1/13,983,816 = 0.000000715, give or take a billionth or two.
It would be fun to summarize what those chances are actually like in relation to other things. Here we go, from my research:
You are 500 times more likely to die by murder or execution
You are 248 times more likely to be struck by lightning
You are 140 times more likely to die from a bee sting or a snake bite
You are 21.5 times more likely to be killed by terrorists
You are 20 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident on you way to buying a lotto ticket
You are 14 times more likely to correctly guess someone’s PIN number
You are 14 times more likely to be consumed by a rare strain of flesh-eating bacteria
If you buy 50 tickets a week you could win once every 5000 years
You are 6.992 times more likely to die when our Earth collides with an asteroid, ending all life on Earth as we know it
But any non-participants out there don’t need my lecture. They have something better: What if you spent $10.00 on lotto tickets for 35 years? Multiplied out for thirty-five 52-week periods, becomes $18,200.00 If you had instead invested that same money in, say, a mutual fund over the same number of years at $10.00 per week, you would have $100,314.56, which is about $80,000 in profit.
Apart from it being a sure thing, it is a significant gain in wealth over what would have happened if the money was squandered on lotto tickets.
Etobicoke. People in hard times. Yeah, there are good parts of this Toronto borough, but huge parts of it are run-down and filling up with down-and-outers looking to make a buck any way they can. People in hard times, closed shops and factories, low rates of literacy, and not much money to spend.
After decades of seeing their jobs moving to Mexico and the Asia-Pacific region, or having their job security thrown into torpor with the prospect of having them competing with jobs in these places, the members of Ford Nation are weary, and have lost hope in any prospect of a secure job. It is not like in times past anymore, where we lived in a work environment where the employer would take care of them. The differences in wealth have never been greater since the 1920s. The new employment strategy among the employers in Etobicoke seems to be to blame the unemployed for their unemployment.
There was, once upon a time, a way around this: Organize. Share thoughts and concerns, make demands. The ability to organize takes a certain level of self-efficacy, and not many seem to feel that they have it. It is a feeling, after all, since if illiterate workers in Argentina can do it, I am sure workers in Etobicoke can do it too. But there is a certain element of this that is emotional. if you don’t feel that you can do something successfully, you probably aren’t going to be successful.
One of many “splinter denomination” churches, this one has a national reach, with other locations in Hamilton, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and other places with lots of poverty. This one is located on Rexdale Boulevard in the heart of Ford Nation.
But that’s another thing. Today’s employee is probably just glad they have a job at all, let alone one that would grant any job security. Unstable incomes lead to unstable families, marriages, and lives. Who do you turn to?
God. And possibly Oprah.
I believe in God. But I think that the number of churches where the answer to poverty is that “if you pray to God with love in your heart, you will get what you need” is on a worrisone rise, and the one-of-a-kind churches seem to specialize in this. While apparently everyone has seemed to given up on organizing, and working as a group of concerned people in a community, I sense that some denominations tend to mimic the effects of the major media, in exacerbating feelings of aloneness and atomization, the opposite of community.
But in comes Rob Ford. Like “us”, he drinks, says anything that is on his mind, and tells off-color jokes. People in Etobicoke identify with him, almost forgetting that his father was a factory owner (he was born into money), and he too is also rich, owns a bungalow and drives an Escalade. Also, unlike most of the working class, he can afford to smoke crack. But instead, the self-appointed denizens of Ford Nation choose to see that “he has his problems” like “us”. He admits his imperfection so that it may help heal his wounds. Even Jesus had wounds, and suffered greatly, so that he may heal others.
Does anyone remember the billboard that was up for one day long the Gardiner Expressway/Highway 427 basket weave (you can’t call it a cloverleaf) that mentioned Rob Ford and ended with a quote from John 8:7? The “cast the first stone” verse is a bad choice of quote, since, well, what is the context? If I recall my Bible correctly, a woman who committed adultery faced a public death by stoning. Jesus intervened and made his famous order that any man who was there (they were all men doing the stoning) who was “without sin” cast the first stone. I take this, and I believe not altogether incorrectly, that any man present who had also not been adulterous cast the first stone. “Sin” in this context usually always means having sex when you are not supposed to. They had, by how I interpret that parable, all been sinful, and likely sinful in the same way. I can say how this is a commentary on how we as humans tend to be the most passionate accusers of other people’s sins which we have ourselves committed, but you’ll be spared. Instead, I draw your attention to the fact that the “sins” are equivalent. All people Jesus faces are guilty of the same or similar sins.
We are given the impression through this sign that I, a sinner have no right to call out a mayor who smokes crack or acts in a highly unprofessional manner in many ways. This only works if my “sins” are equivalent to Ford’s (in this case, vices of many descriptions including drugs and sex). Not all of us smoke crack or consort with prostitutes and drug dealers. I think that makes the majority of our population free of such “sins”.
Rob Ford is not Jesus. Jesus did not smoke crack, nor did Jesus find himself in the company of crack dealers. If it were, it would only to be to get them to repent their crack-dealing ways forever. Jesus was never in “a drunken stupor”. Also, unlike Jesus, most of Ford’s wounds are self-inflicted, if we are to carry the “wound” analogy. Ford has a bigger problem that can’t just be confessed away, and it goes beyond any problems “us common folk” have. These are problems involving criminals, and the police. This is a larger set of personal problems that would dwarf most of ours by orders of magnitude. And they are all problems that Rob Ford made for himself.
An “Etobicoke resident”, who went by the name of Joy Green, was interviewed twice by the CBC, once for CBC Newsworld, and one more time for As It Happens on CBC Radio One. Etobicoke, a Toronto bourough which is known for shuttered factories and high crime, is known to some (like me) as “the Automotive Ghetto” for its plenitude of auto mechanics who work within a 1-kilometre radius of Rexdale Boulevard and Islington Avenue, who work in run-down garages and will fix your car for cheap. Some of the closed shops and businesses had been converted to churches of one-of-a-kind denominations such as the “Mountain of Fire and Miracles” Ministry on Rexdale Boulevard which was formerly a car dealership. In fact, these one-of-a-kind churches are quite common around the Rexdale-Islington area. This is Ford Nation, a word they use to describe the hard-core supporters of Rob Ford, who mostly hail from Etobicoke.
It was pointed out in the CBC interview that Joy Green lives in a condo that has had numerous drug raids. In fact, one of those raids led to the infamous crack video that incriminated Ford and is currently under police possession. This would make it possibly the 320 Dixon Road complex, well-known for its high crime. It is the reason why that complex and other condos in the area command the lowest prices in the Greater Toronto Area. It is about the only place in Toronto where you can buy a condo for under $100,000.
One would find it hard to believe that a resident such as Ms. Green would support Ford, but she is unwavering. Joy speaks with eloquence and intelligence, in fact disarmingly so. She has that “common touch” to her voice that almost makes you forget the level of literacy she seems to have, and in fact in both interviews, the CBC never tells us what she does for a living. I estimate from her eloquence that she must be a lawyer or some other kind of professional, but then what would she be doing living in one of the mosr crime-infested condos in Etobicoke? Why doesn’t she move out? In both interviews, these and other obvious contradictions were never explored.
Most of what I read in other media and news reports seem to treat the allegations against Ford as serious, and the strangeness of Ford’s refusal to resign despite his own admission of cocaine use with a raised eyebrow. The dominant theme I hear, including from Joy Green, is that he ought to “get help” and at the very least take some time off. This I don’t dispute, but that is not the whole story, and compared with other things, is the least of his worries.
The real story, the one that arose briefly over the past couple of days then got buried, was the extended journeys with Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, Ford’s “unofficial” driver, and a man now up on charges of extortion. From there, we are aware of a connection with drug dealers that go back a long way, and possibly involve Bob’s brother Doug Ford. Police had recorded observations of Ford “exchanging envelopes” between cars in a parking lot, where Lisi was involved. This is a much darker tale than being caught smoking crack while inebriated (which for the mayor of the fourth largest city in North America, is already dark enough as it is), and it links Ford and Lisi to possible criminal activity. Lisi was not the only shady character Ford was known to hang around with. The fact that the Fords have been allowed to get away with this up until this huge scandal would establish them as skilled public manipulators. They lack polish, but they even work that to their favour.
UPDATE: I have discovered Joy Green mentioned in the UK Independent. News travels far.
The Saturday Night Live (SNL) parody of the Toronto Crack-Smoking-Mayor-in-name-only Rob Ford has been roundly declared, from many sources in radio and blogs, and me, to be not funny. A post-mortem is in order as to why SNL, the foremost bastion of coolness-and-funny, dropped the ball bigtime on this one with last Saturday’s show opener regarding Rob Ford.
Writing comedy is hard work. Parody and satire are the worst to write about. Satire can’t not be funny. Satire that does not make you laugh quickly becomes a big turn-off. And to make things worse, in this situation, it is Rob Ford himself who has all the best lines, and he delivers them deadpan, with no sense of irony. That would be the mark of a great comic actor, but he is not acting. He is the definitive windbag, with his grandiosity billowing in full sail, and no one wants to tell him how full of it he really is. And so not being told, he keeps going full steam ahead, the gift to The Comedy Network that keeps on giving.
SNL was going for something truly ambitious when they broke ranks with other comic satirists such as Bill Maher, David Letterman, Steven Colbert, and the best of the bunch Jon Stewart by actually making a skit of this.
A skit. Like, you know, with actors and saying lines, and stuff.
And who would play Rob Ford? And would they do justice to him and the whole situation? It’s hard. Try it, sometime. That would mean that your punchlines have to compete with Ford’s. And SNL, populated with the best comic writers in America, couldn’t match him. All they could muster were a few sentences ending in “eh?”, a drunken “best mayor” song and dance followed by a “crowd-surf” dive gone badly and couple of penis jokes. This kind of weak offering is the kind of writing a comic writer resorts to under a 3-day deadline with blank paper and 6 hours left. The story changes from underneath you, Ford steals your goddamn lines by saying something better in the interim, the wastebasket getting fuller and fuller with ideas that no longer work, and telling excuses to your boss at NBC won’t pay the bills. That had to be the scenario that produced the skit.
Jon Stewart, and just about everyone else, however, took the easy route, and in actuality the only sensible route. They played back recordings of Ford himself speaking the punchlines, with the real comedians playing “straight man” and reacting to him. That is really the only sensible way out. Rob Ford has to be understood as “the comedy which writes itself”. Literally, and there is really no choice. If you come up with something funny, Ford will blindside you with something more brilliant. Then, you’re not funny anymore. Your only hope is to know your place and play second fiddle to him, and just react.
This is a story about Nobody getting arrested. Nobody getting a brutal police beating. Nobody spending three days in hospital. Nobody being jailed, and Nobody being let go, because the charges didn’t stick.
While hearing reports about Adam Nobody seems humourous, with reporters having to, as they always do for people they are discussing, referring to them by their last names, this gives the G20 protest a frightfully Orwellian ring to it. I find it slightly unnerving for reporters to now be allowed to say that at the G20 protest three years ago, “Nobody got arrested”, or “Nobody was kicked and bruised”, but yet “Nobody was found Not Guilty of all charges”. How about this: “Nobody did not assault the officers”. There is a video of Nobody on YouTube.
This just writes itself. There is nothing left to say.
Tweet SWAG has by now been so overused that no one, not even the generation that wear their hats sideways and wear their pants so that half their ass shows, seem to know what it means anymore. And I don’t mean that older people don’t know what they mean, but I am not sure that even [...] [...]
Tweet From time to time one gets curious about the most popular questions on the minds of people on the ‘net. If I enter “why” in the Google search, depending on the letter that comes after, I get, through autocomplete: Why be happy when you could be normal Why does Facebook suck Why fighting should stay in hockey Why? For the [...] [...]
Tweet While this is not the optimal solution, it looks like there is no choice. I had to go into the database to delete all of the comments in order to delete the 130 thousand or so spurious comments from spammers waiting in the moderation queue. So, to this day, there are no comments anywhere in [...] [...]
Tweet I haven’t published anything at this blog since mid-2011, and I won’t for some time, as I have to now fix the site. First, I needed to get rid of fake subscribers (over 15 thousand of them) placed here by spambots. Spambots have also inserted nearly 150 thousand fake messages should you like to hear [...] [...]
Tweet The debate over computers in the schools has finally come around to giving naysayers equal time. There was an article in the Sunday New York Times regarding a school in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley that teaches math, music, and other standard elementary school subjects in a computer-free environment.Computers are touted as an enhancer [...] [...]
Tweet Computer programmer Dennis Ritchie passed away today at age 70. Ritchie co-invented the UNIX operating system with Ken Thompson at Bell Labs in 1969, while co-authoring the C programming language with Brian Kernighan around the same period. In 1978, Kernighan and Ritchie co-authored the book “The C Programming Language”, now known as the K&R book. [...] [...]
Tweet Well, that milestone had been past a couple of days ago having first been published on October 11, 1961 (I was sure it was first published in the 50s, but not so, according to publisher Simon & Schuster), but I must say it was my favourite book, and possibly remains my favourite book of fiction [...] [...]
Tweet Whether it’s in favour of Euthanasia, or whatever other pretext there is to make suicide look good, do you ever notice that people in support of suicide are still alive, and need to be alive to advocate for it? I dunno. Just a thought. [...]
Tweet For my math class, I was attempting to create a curve sketching question by writing the second derivative as a factorable quadratic, and working backwards to an order-4 polynomial. Along the way, I would fill in the missing constant terms by using synthetic division on an arbitrary binomial factor, and striking upon a satisfactory polynomial [...] [...]
Tweet I am a lover of satire, and I came across a great site called “Regretsy“, a parody site of “etsy“, which is a site for people who want to sell their arts and crafts. There are a lot of bad crafts out there sold by people who are often full of themselves (you have to [...] [...]
Tweet Frankly, I didn’t want to get caught up in the hubbub that has marked the 10th anniversary of the disasters of 9/11/2001, but my wife had been watching the TV about this constantly, so I thought I would weigh in on opinions on what has been called 9/11. There are a lot of conspiracy theories out [...] [...]
Tweet I recently purchased an OCZ Vertex 2 Solid State Hard Drive. The price per gig is enormous ($220 after taxes, in-store warranty, and mail-in rebate for a 120 gig hard drive), but is just the size to install the operating system and any applications I like. I generally don’t use the main hard drive (or [...] [...]
Tweet I always had an aversion to veggie foods. This isn’t because I hate the stuff; it’s more because I admit to quite a lot of ignorance toward going veggie and eating balanced meals at the same time. This doesn’t mean I avoid it altogether, it’s just that I didn’t feel ready to let go of [...] [...]
Tweet It has come to my attention in recent years that we are the stupid ones. Homo sapiens, as we so arrogantly call ourselves, might be the least intelligent of the surviving genii of hominids. Our species won out over Homo neanderthalensis because we were more competitive and selfish than they. Neandethals have larger brains than [...] [...]
Tweet Yesterday, I told another fellow computer geek an ’80s DOS joke about being prompted to “Enter any 11-digit prime number and press ENTER to continue.” She then suggested that a number with 11 1′s might be prime. Having encountered this before in programs I’ve written, I warned her that you can’t assume all sequences of [...] [...]